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The Teen Drinking Problem

April 19, 2017

Teens seem to be wired to break the rules and indulge in risky behavior. While taking risks and pushing boundaries may be an important part of adolescent development, when those risks involve alcohol, there can be severe consequences. Parents can learn to recognize the patterns around teen drinking and minimize the risks.

According to the center for disease control’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, high school students in 2015 reported that during the last 30 days:

  • 33% drank some amount of alcohol.
  • 18% binge drank (5 or more drinks on one occasion).
  • 8% drove after drinking.
  • 20% rode in a vehicle with a driver who had been drinking.
  • 17% had drunk alcohol before age 13.

Underage drinking most commonly is done in the form of binge drinking. Combining the reduced inhibition caused by alcohol with the propensity for risky behavior among teens can have tragic consequences. Drinking is responsible for around 5,000 deaths among teens each year, and many also suffer long term consequences.

Human brains continue to develop into the mid 20’s. While teens already have a high intellectual capacity, they are still developing impulse control and emotional regulation. Drinking in the teenage years can interfere with this significant development. Teens who start drinking before age 15 are six times more likely to struggle with alcohol abuse and addiction than those who wait until the legal drinking age to start drinking.

Preventing Your Teen from Drinking

Learning to recognize signs that your child is drinking is the first step in preventing alcohol abuse issues down the line. If you notice any changes such a deceptive behavior, changes in their friend group, signs of a hangover in the morning or academic struggles, be proactive and find out what is going on for your child.

Many teen drinking stories involve drinking their parent’s alcohol, so consider securing any alcohol you have at home. One of the most effective ways to prevent binge drinking is to make sure that they are being supervised in the evenings. Get to know your teen’s friends and their parents, and confirm that your teen goes where they say they will.

Treatment for Teen Drinking and Co-occurring Mental Health Issues

If you suspect that your teen is binge drinking, let them know and express your concern. You may be able to address the issue and get a sense for the extent of their drinking. If your teen is abusing alcohol, Sandstone Care is here to help. We offer a continuum of care tailored to the unique needs of teenagers and their families. Call today with any questions and to get you and your child the support they require.


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